Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta’s lower-body injury appears serious

Coach Jon Cooper: “It’s not a day-to-day thing.”
When Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta left Amalie Arena on Tuesday night, he had a brace on his right ankle.
When Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta left Amalie Arena on Tuesday night, he had a brace on his right ankle. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Feb. 4, 2020|Updated Feb. 6, 2020

TAMPA —The Lightning lost defenseman Jan Rutta about halfway through the first period of Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over Las Vegas.

Rutta took a low hit from Nicolas Roy and went legs-first into the boards. He laid on the ice for a few moments clutching his right leg and was reluctant to put pressure on it as his teammates assisted him off of the ice. He did not return after the lower-body injury.

“It’s not a day-to-day thing,” Cooper said after the game. “It’s going to be much longer than that. Hopefully, it won’t be that long, but he’s going to be out for a bit.”

Rutta used a green knee scooter to get out of the arena, donning a brace on his right ankle.

“This is where you need guys to step up,” Cooper said.

Stamkos commended the work of his teammates, having full faith in the players next in line in Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn.

“We have the depth, so it’s reassuring to know at least we have those guys waiting,” Stamkos added.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was stuck with playing five defensemen for more than 50 minutes of play against what Cooper called “a skating team.” The Lightning also had to kill off three penalties in the second period.

“You have to give the guys a lot of credit,” Cooper said, “especially with the penalties we had to kill off in the second. It takes a lot out of you.”

Lightning hold up against ‘big-body’ Western Conference teams

Pat Maroon knows better than anyone on the Lightning what it takes to play against the Western Conference teams. He did it for most of his career before coming to Tampa Bay this season.

“It’s a different mentality over here," Maroon said Tuesday morning, hours before the Lightning’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Amalie Arena. "Every team plays a heavy, grinding, kind of big-body hockey in the west.”

That “big-body” mentality has served Tampa Bay well, logging nine points in their recent six-game road trip against Western Conference teams.

“I think we’ve done a really good job of managing it and pushing back,” Maroon said. “You’re going to need that down the stretch and come playoff time.”

Coach Jon Cooper was also pleased with the level of play he saw on the road with heavy games against the west. “I think we’re doing well all over the ice,” he said.

Related: Related: What we learned while the Lightning was away

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.